Chapter 1: Like
They were all pretty grateful to put Kai in their rearview mirror, even if they'd rather have been putting her in the county morgue. It took almost an hour to find Dom's missing button cam and by the time everyone had gotten back to the office, the sun was setting and they were all dragging their feet.
Paperwork took twice as long as normal. Everyone was hyper-aware that Vance would be going over everything with a fine-toothed comb. Ten or twelve times.
At a little after eight, Kensi disappeared and came back a minute later with both six packs of beer that she'd found in the fridge.
"I think it's time to declare this working day over," she said disappearing into the corner of wardrobe where the couch and several chairs had been tucked away.
Everyone who hadn't already gone home followed, dragging themselves away from the table and dropping into various seats around the room. Callen and Sam commandeered the couch, Kensi the recliner and Dom dragged in a desk chair. Eric sprawled out on the floor. Kensi popped the tops off the beers with the edge of the table and passed them around. "This was one fucked up case."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
There was a long silence before Eric started rambling about his Facebook account and eventually roped Dom into their previous debate about which social networking sites were better for various purposes. Sam and Callen tuned them all out, slouching against the back of the sofa, G's feet on the small table.
Eventually Kensi got dragged into the conversation, but Sam stayed out of it, taking over Kensi's job of making sure everyone had beer. Dom seemed to be pacing himself, but everyone was on their seconds and Sam reached over to see if G wanted one more. Somehow, without Sam even noticing, G had slumped down, his shoulder pressed against Sam. "Hey, Kensi," he whispered as he tried to see G's face without moving too much, "He asleep?"
Kensi tilted her head and studied G in the yellow light, "Looks like it."
Sam shook his head. Figured. He shifted in a way that would cause G to slide just a little more and fall against him, instead of staying propped so oddly against the couch cushion. Unfortunately, the shift made G try to catch himself and Sam got an elbow in the ribs for his trouble.
"Oh, ow, G!"
G mumbled something and tried to sit back up, but couldn't find a way to push himself back without putting his weight on Sam.
"Alright, alright, hang on," Sam said, pushing on G's shoulder to hold him up and hold him still. "Dom, toss me that throw pillow."
Dom grabbed a brocade pillow from the small pile in the corner and tossed it to Sam.
Sam set the pillow against the arm of the couch on his side and carefully moved Callen to lie down against it, his head and shoulders in Sam's lap. "Go back to sleep, G," Sam mumbled as Callen shifted and got comfortable, mumbling something incomprehensible into Sam's leg.
Dom was pretty sure his jaw was heading for the Mexican border it dropped so far. Eric and Kensi didn't seem to be fazed, so he didn't say anything, but he wasn't sure he wasn't doing a crap job of not staring.
He was sure that he had outright failed in being at all covert in his observation when Kensi toed him with her boot. He immediately brought his eyes down to his beer bottle and fumbled around for a way to restart his conversation with Eric about computers, about cyberfriends in Myanmar, anything.
Nate came in, giving him a blessed distraction. "How we holding up?" Nate asked as he grabbed one of the few remaining bottles and leaned on the wall.
"We're fine, Nate," Kensi answered for them all. "Tired, but unscathed."
Nate slowly surveyed the room, making eye-contact with everyone, to be sure Kensi did in fact speak for them all.
He paused when he saw Callen asleep across Sam's lap. "Tell me Callen wasn't drinking," he told the room.
"He's a big boy, Nate," Sam answered for his still unconscious partner. "I don't think a beer or two means he has a drinking problem or something."
"No," Nate answered quickly, "But he is on painkillers. Enough that the pill alone will drop him on his ass. The alcohol's effect will be considerably magnified."
Sam glowered at the back of G's head, looking like he wanted to slap it. G slumbered on obliviously. "He having problems with his back again?" Sam wasn't privy to all the details, but somehow Nate had convinced G to let Nate decide when he needed to take the pain pills that had been prescribed for the muscle aches and spasms that had persisted long after G had been shot.
Nate raised his eyebrows, but didn't answer. He understood that Sam and the rest of the team were as much family as G would ever have, but he still had to keep up at least the pretense of following the rules of doctor/patient confidentiality. And when it came to Sam and G, not answering was as good as agreeing.
Sam nodded. "Besides sleeping until noon tomorrow, this going to give him any problems? Breathing or whatever?"
Nate shook his head, "Shouldn't. But all the same, it might be better if he wasn't left alone tonight. Provided anyone can even drag him out of here to his… where is he staying now?"
"Right now? Right here," Sam said. "I'll stay here with him."
"A few more beers and we'll have a reason to camp here," Kensi put in. "Speaking of…" she leaned forward and rifled through the collection of bottles only to discover that they were all empties. "Damn. Anyone here still under point oh-eight?"
Dom smiled, "I'll drive you home."
"Screw that. You can drive me over to the nearest liquor store so we can get some more beer." She tossed him the car keys. "You drive, I'll buy."
Dom caught the keys easily and stood, following Kensi out to the car.
They were just out of the parking lot when Kensi shifted to watch Dom in the passing streetlights. "So… What was your issue with Sam and Callen back there?"
"Issue? No issue," Dom replied quickly, keeping his eyes on the road.
"You looked like you swallowed a live goldfish," Kensi told him.
"I was just surprised. I mean, it makes more sense now that we know that Callen's on meds, but…"
"But?" Kensi pushed.
"I just… I got to wondering… if it was you, you know as my partner, if you were the one falling asleep like that… I'm not sure I'd just have you lay down on me. I'd probably get up and give you the whole sofa. But then I started thinking that maybe I wouldn't – maybe I'd do what Sam did - but it's different because, well… you know…"
"Sam and Callen got over worrying about what people think of the two of them a long time ago," Kensi told him. "Sam, Callen and I were the first three NCIS agents assigned to OSP. We were here in L.A. and setting up shop in the old warehouse with Eric for almost a month before Macy got assigned to babysit us and about a hundred more people came in to help us. After three years I've learned one thing – as much as G acts like he trusts someone, he usually doesn't. I'm not even sure he completely trusts me outside of the job. He trusts Sam. And Sam fought hard for that trust. Neither one of them are going jeopardize that over what someone else might think."
Dom pulled into the store's parking lot and turned off the headlights. "I wasn't judging. I honestly don't care if there's something else going on there, I was just… caught off guard."
"Jealous?" Kensi asked flippantly as she climbed out of the car. "Afraid that I won't let you sleep on my lap the next time you decide to mix drugs and alcohol?"
"Very funny," Dom shot back as they made their way into the liquor store. But he couldn't completely get the idea out of his head. Not that he was particularly interested in Kensi – not that he couldn't be under other circumstances, but she was his partner – but that Sam and Callen had that level of extreme trust and that they were that comfortable with that level of intimacy, even in front of others. He couldn't honestly say that he wasn't just a little bit jealous of that.
He filed the whole thing away to turn over in the back of his mind during the next long stakeout or the next time he got more than three thousand hits on a computer search that had to be manually sorted. He also resolved to watch the other agents just a little more closely. He wasn't lying when he told Kensi he didn't really give a damn. But it was a puzzle he really wanted to solve now. Just to know. Just to prove to himself that he could do covert. That he could find information and make enough observations to prove or disprove a theory without anyone else knowing what he was up to.
Kensi bought three more six packs and Dom drove them back in silence. They wouldn't go through all that beer tonight, but it was a good idea to keep the fridge stocked for the next hellish case.
When they came back in, chatting about whether or not Kensi had been flirting with the store clerk on purpose because she'd forgotten her I.D. or just out of habit, they found Eric in the chair next to the sofa. He hissed "Shhh," as they came in and nodded in the direction of the sofa.
Someone had taken G's shoes off and he'd curled up on the couch, his head still on Sam's lap. Sam's feet were on the coffee table and his head was against the back of the couch, as soundly asleep as his partner.
Kensi giggled and grabbed the blanket that had been folded over the back of the chair at one point, but was on the floor near the couch now. She carefully covered the two of them as best she could without putting the blanket over Callen's face. "Good night, lightweights," she whispered as she stood back up. "Okay Dom, I'll put the beer away and then take you up on your offer to drive me home. Eric? You good?"
Eric pulled himself out of his chair and began gathering up the empties, trying to put them into the trash bin without making a lot of noise. "I'm good. Dom and I'll clean up so Hetty doesn't kill us tomorrow."
Dom grabbed a couple of bottles and gently lowered them into the half-full wastebasket. One slipped and it clattered against the others already in there. G startled but didn't wake. Dom grimaced and moved more carefully to avoid making any more noise. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that Sam's hand came up to the top of G's head, calming him, even as they both remained asleep.
Dom carefully removed the liner from the trashcan and took it out back to the dumpster, turning over everything he'd seen in his head. He had quite a lot to think about and even more reason to watch them very carefully.
Chapter 2: Love
Sam slumped further down into his chair. It was getting late and he'd had an excessively long day. But he couldn't quite tear his eyes away from the dried blood and large lump on the top of G's head.
It had been an almost hour long debate to convince Callen to sleep on the couch – somewhere Sam could keep an eye on him for the evening. Eventually Nate had helped him good cop, bad cop him into sleeping on the couch with Sam as a babysitter because it was a more appealing option than Nate's insistence that someone with an injury like that should really go to the hospital and be kept under observation for twenty-four or forty-eight hours.
Sam debated getting up and looking for G's bedroll and a sleeping bag for himself, but couldn't quite find the energy. There was a blanket scrunched up on the end of the couch by G's feet – probably from the last time they'd slept back here – that he could toss that over G at some point. He shifted a bit and noticed that there was another blanket folded over the back of his chair. It seemed to be a scratchy wool sort of thing, but it would do if he couldn't find the energy to go get something better.
He heard footsteps approach and slow. He looked over to find Dom standing uncertainly in the doorway. "Hey," Dom said, tilting his head and studying G, trying to decide if he was really asleep or if he was faking it.
"Hey," Sam whispered back, knowing that G was really out and not wanting to wake him. Yet.
"Everything okay?" Dom asked, shifting a little nervously.
"Could have been worse," Sam answered cryptically. He was still annoyed with himself for not having a better plan for bailing G out when things had started to go pear-shaped. There was a reason G was typically regarded as the brains of their partnership and he the brawn. Sam knew he was perfectly good at holding his own in an op when he knew what his role was. But G was the one who could evolve his part in the charade to fit whatever curveball their dirtbags threw them. At some point he'd have to explain that it wasn't that he didn't trust G to get himself out of trouble, but … well, he wasn't the one they hired for his ability to think on his feet. He was the one they hired to keep the one who could think on his feet from getting himself killed while in the process of doing it.
"You … want a ride home or something? Hetty called, she said the paperwork can wait until tomorrow." Dom held up his car key.
Sam indicated G with his chin. "Concussion watch."
Dom looked confused.
"Let's just say no one else wants to deal with waking up his cranky ass every two hours after he gets hit in the head. I think it has something to do with the time Renko said he'd keep an eye on him and G totally fucked with him," Sam said, smiling at the way G had totally freaked Renko out.
Dom sat in the one empty chair. "What'd he do?"
"It was our first real mission as a team out here. So we'd only been together about a week. G got slammed up against a wrought iron fence – hard. Now, we all know how forthcoming G is with personal information," Sam rolled his eyes, "So Renko hadn't quite figured out that I wasn't calling him 'G' as a nickname. Renko says he'll crash at G's place to make sure he's okay and the first time he wakes him up and asks him his name, Callen gives him his last name. Renko asks for his first name and G says, 'I don't have one.' So Renko freaks out. He's making G get up and answer about twelve other questions, but he keeps coming back to the name thing. G keeps insisting that, no, really, he doesn't have a first name and Renko thinks Callen's brain is about to leak out of his ears or something and he's about to call an ambulance. Evenually G calls me – it's like three-thirty in the morning now – to prove to Renko that he's not fucking with him. Renko refused to babysit him ever again. And he made damn sure everyone else knew about this, so no one else is too keen on doing it either." Sam stretched out his legs in front of him and tossed G a glare. "He knows better than to fuck with me."
Dom shook his head and smiled. He wasn't going to ask, but it sounded like Sam had taught G and object lesson in not fucking with his partner at some point. Having heard about the "Jolene" stunt a few weeks ago, Dom had learned that Sam had an agile sense of humor and he was pretty sure that he could embarrass G if given enough incentive. But he also knew that Sam took G's well-being pretty damn seriously. He wondered if other people's refusal to look after Callen wasn't equal parts that people didn't want G messing with them and not wanting to get between G and Sam. Dom hadn't been around when G had gotten shot, but he'd heard stories about how Sam had stayed at Callen's side for more than a week and he'd seen how he'd hovered pretty close to G those first few cases once Callen came back.
"Either of you need anything before I go? I think everyone else has headed out." Dom shifted his laptop bag against his shoulder.
"We're good, Dom. Thanks." As soon as he said it he realized he should have told Dom to find him a sleeping bag in the camping gear. Oh well, too late now. Dom was halfway out the door, calling 'g'night' over his shoulder.
Sam shrugged. He was warm, dry and as soon as he mustered up the energy to turn off the light, it would be dark. He'd slept in far worse conditions. G flinched against his pillow and he made a face. When G's hands came up to his face, Sam knew he was having a nightmare.
Sam wasn't surprised. G could be blasé as hell about pretty much anything that happened to them on duty. Especially when he was undercover and ostensibly someone else. But Sam knew from some of their wrestling practice in the gym, G really hated having his hands tied. Sam suspected that something had happened when he'd been stationed in Russia with Gibbs in the nineties. Whatever it had been was probably the reason G kept the bobby pin on him now.
G flinched again in his sleep and Sam was starting to think that he was going bang that bump on his head into the arm of the couch. He dragged himself out of his chair. "G, hey, G," Sam shook his shoulder. "Wake up, man, you're having a nightmare or something."
G's hand shot up and wrapped around Sam's wrist, pulling Sam off balance until he tumbled into him. Then he opened his eyes and blinked blearily at Sam. "Oh, it's you."
"Thanks," Sam mumbled sarcastically as he straightened up.
"You okay?" G asked, still looking muzzy and unfocused.
"I was gonna ask you that. Looked like you were about to bang your bashed-in head into the couch." Sam shifted so that he was sitting next to the sofa.
As if he hadn't remembered until that moment that he'd been having a nightmare, G's face suddenly closed off. "I'm fine." He tried to be subtle as he pulled his hands up in front of his face, as if he needed to see that they were free.
Sam shook his head. "No, you aren't." He shoved the table over and reached over and grabbed the blanket at the end of the sofa and spread it out on the floor. He grabbed a couple of throw pillows from the corner and tossed them down before grabbing the other blanket from the back of the chair he'd been in. "Get over here, G," he said as he stretched out on half of the blanket.
"I haven't been shot, Sam." G was eyeing him carefully like he wasn't sure what Sam was up to. It was one thing that he'd slept next to Sam after he'd been released from the hospital. For one he felt it was bad form to kick Sam out of his own bed for nearly a month. But the truth that only Sam and G would ever acknowledge was that someone had shot G five times and no one, including G, had any inkling of why. Or when they'd come back to try again.
Today had been no picnic in the park, but they'd gotten the bad guys. All of them. And despite numerous opportunities, no one had actually shot him. So G wasn't quite sure what was going on.
"Come on, G, we'll both sleep better," Sam cajoled.
G debated back and forth for a second before finally grabbing his pillow and lying down next to Sam. He moved his head carefully and slowly. He turned his back to Sam as Sam tossed the wool blanket over them both.
G wondered if Sam could tell how much tension drained out of him when Sam scooted closer and tossed an arm casually over his chest, wiggling until they were snuggled together. G lay staring at the bottom of the sofa for a minute before finally whispering, "Hey Sam?" He wasn't sure if Sam had fallen back asleep yet, and he didn't want to cost him any more sleep than he already had.
"You okay, G?"
"I'm okay, I just… Before... I didn't want to come off like I didn't appreciate that you came in after me out there. I mean, it was a bit stupid to risk yourself like that – I mean it was just me, it wasn't like there were hostages or anything. But I do appreciate that you were willing to come in after me."
"You know what G, it is too late and I am too tired to deal with you talking like that. So shut up before I do one of two really stupid things: either smack you in the back of your busted head or turn you over to Nate tomorrow morning." Sam took a deep breath and gently stroked his thumb over G's shirt where it rested trying to calm himself. G was the best in the field and his best friend besides, but sometimes his self-worth issues drove Sam nuts. "Seriously, G. You're worth going after. If you don't feel it yet, then take my word for it until you do, okay?"
G gently turned until he could see Sam out of the corner of his eye, apparently trying to judge Sam's sincerity. "Um… okay… for the record, I'd rather take the hit to the head. I worked with Gibbs for eighteen months, I'm used to those. Nate on the other hand…" He gave a fake shiver.
"Go to sleep, G," Sam said settling them both under the blanket again.
The next morning Dom was the first one in the office. He'd grabbed a box of donuts and a box of coffee on his way in. Somewhere along the line he and Eric had developed the habit of bringing in breakfast the day after the closing of a rough case. He headed back for the their little living room, stopping short when he saw Sam and G asleep on the floor. The one blanket they'd apparently been sharing was twisted around G's legs, and they were both completely dressed. But they were also completely twisted up in each other. He stood staring, debating if it was better to just disappear and try to keep everyone away until they woke up or if he should wake them now before someone else stumbled upon them.
He was still mentally debating when he heard Sam mutter, "That has to be Dominic Vaile staring holes into the back of my head." Sam opened his eyes a second later and turned onto his back to look at Dom. "Thought so."
"I… I didn't want to wake you. I figure you probably lost a bit of sleep with having to wake Callen every few hours." Dom hoped he didn't sound completely stupid.
Sam rolled onto his back and dragged himself up into a sitting position. "I'm up; it's good." Sam said stretching his back by twisting back and forth while G slept on obliviously. "Did you bring coffee?" he asked as the smell permeated his sleep-soaked brain.
"Um… yeah," Dom said, wishing he knew how to act in this situation. He still wasn't sure what he was seeing and that made it kind of hard to determine a good approach to the situation.
Sam reached over and tapped the back of G's elbow with the backs of his fingers. "G. Hey G, you gonna get up or you want to get some more sleep?"
"I can get some more sleep?" G asked muzzily.
"Get some more sleep, G. But if you aren't moving by noon, I'm dragging your ass to a hospital. Up to you."
G just muttered something like an acknowledgment into his pillow and went back to sleep.
Sam stood and finished stretching. He reached down and untangled the blanket from around G's feet and dropped it back over him. He looked up at Dom, "Coffee?"
Dom gave a weak smile, still thinking. "Sure… I'll put it on the conference table."
Chapter 3: Lust
"Hetty, please find something for Callen to do before I am no longer able to resist the urge to put a sixth bullet hole in him," Kensi whined.
"I heard that!" G hollered from the top of the stairs.
"He's making me crazy!" Kensi stage whispered, exasperated beyond the point of trying to pretend she wasn't.
Hetty made a show of checking her watch. "Thirty-eight hours and… twelve minutes, Agent Blye. I'm sure you can resist the impulse for that long."
Kensi looked up the stairs where Callen was standing and very obviously listening in on their conversation. "I'm not so sure," she said more to him than to Hetty. She was spared having to prolong the conversation by Eric's whistle.
"I have the perfect antidote to that urge," Hetty reassured her.
"Don't tell me guilt. I'm not sure I'd even feel bad!" She was hollering up to make sure G could hear her.
"No, I know better than that. I was going to say, 'It would generate an awful lot of paperwork,'" Hetty informed her with a pat on the shoulder.
"Still might be worth it," Kensi growled. "I don't care how many Arabic speakers Director Vance needs next time, he can't have Sam. Or he needs to take them both."
Hetty smiled and gently steered Kensi to the stairs to see what Eric had found.
Everyone collected in the operations center. Eric's domain. Once he had assembled his audience, he began. "We got a hit on Kensi's cover's profile. He wants to set up a meet."
Kensi let out a quiet, "Thank god. I can get out of here for a while," before sitting down at Eric's terminal and setting up a 'date' with their serial rapist. Once the details were finalized she turned to Hetty, "I'm gonna need a uniform."
"Already pressed and hanging up downstairs. Since Lieutenant Fortes has already encountered Mr. Vale, I suggest you take Mr. Callen as your back up tonight," Hetty said as she disappeared behind the screen.
"Sam better get back from Iraq damn soon," Kensi mumbled as she followed Hetty down to wardrobe.
Hetty turned back and gave Kensi an innocent smile, "Did you or did you not just suggest I find something productive for Mr. Callen to do?"
Kensi threw up her hands in surrender.
G stuck his tongue out at her when her back was turned which had both Eric and Dom in fits of laughter. It wasn't that they didn't agree with Kensi's annoyance with Callen's attitude lately, it was just that neither of them had the balls to actually say anything about it.
Once they were both out of range – Eric leaned around the large screen to make sure Callen wasn't eavesdropping from the stairs – he and Dom both broke into laughter again.
After a minute Dom cleared his throat and leaned in to make sure he wasn't overheard. "So… this whole thing these past three weeks… I can't tell if it's just that Callen's really that bored since Kensi and I have had this case or if, you know…" He made a face that made Eric wonder for a second if he was about to have a seizure.
"Know what?" Eric asked.
"If it's because Sam's been gone. I've never seen partners that are close as those two are." Dom was still looking around furtively making sure that he wasn't being overheard.
Eric laughed and turned back to his screen. "Yeah, your guess on that one is as good as mine. If you get brave enough to ask, let me know."
Callen was continuing his reign of torment while Hetty got them both dressed. He was cut off mid-sentence by a loud bellow from the general vicinity of the front door.
"Hello?! Anyone home?"
G dropped the Oxford shirt Hetty had selected for him to wear to the bar the meet was set for and took off to greet his wayward partner. "Hey! You're early. Your last email said you wouldn't be back until the day after tomorrow."
Sam gave G a smirk, "I could leave and come back on Thursday."
A chorus of "NO!" came from both wardrobe and the railing upstairs near the operations center.
G laughed. "They're going to tell you I've been a little stir crazy since Hetty won't let me out of the house without adult supervision. Something about my ability to get shot even when I'm not working a case."
Sam smiled as he saw Kensi emerge from wardrobe in a Navy Lieutenant's dress blues. "Check you out," he whistled.
Kensi did a little catwalk turn. "We're about to take down a serial rapist," she turned to G and added, "And if you don't go pick up that shirt, Hetty will gut you with a letter opener."
"I actually believe that," G muttered as he headed back to finish changing.
"I'm borrowing your partner for a couple of hours," Kensi informed Sam, "but once this op is over, you are welcome to take him back. In fact, I beg you." Kensi stepped closer and gave Sam a quick hug. "Glad you're home in one piece."
"Thanks, Kensi. I'm gonna go get out of these fatigues and get cleaned up. We can catch up once you get your bad guy." Sam dropped his duffle and kicked it over to the wall.
G emerged from wardrobe a few seconds later. "You'll be here when we get back? We shouldn't be gone for too long."
Sam laughed. He'd noticed even in grainy satellite chats that had mostly been about the job and through emails, that G was going through what may have been his very first bout of separation anxiety. Sam was sympathetic, but there was also a slightly endearing quality to the manicness of G's attitude lately. He was just glad that that extra level of energy and neurosis was turned on people other than him. "I'll be here, G. Go catch bad guys."
"Bad guy, singular," G corrected. "And this one is ridiculously stupid. We should be back soon."
"We'll be back sooner if we actually leave," Kensi reprimanded and grabbed him, literally, by the ear and dragged him out to the car.
G was right, Fortes was completely stupid. They had him in cuffs and in LAPD holding in less than an hour and half.
Sam was in jeans and a Henley and was sprawled out in the chair next to the sofa behind wardrobe. Eric, Dom, Hetty, Nate and a half dozen support personnel were gathered around while Sam told them about the mission he'd been sent to Iraq for. When they got back, Kensi went straight back to change out of the uniform she'd borrowed. G leaned on the doorframe, listening to Sam explain about how their convoy had found an IED in a little house built of Legos. He spotted G in the doorway. "Brought you back something," he said tossing a something small and blue to G. G caught it in one hand. A Lego block. "Still pretty good with Legos." He looked over to Nate. "And we didn't have a shielded room or anything when we defused it." He held up both hands, "But look, still have all ten fingers."
Nate smiled and saluted him with his coffee cup. And then he glared at G; the stunt the two of them had pulled on him last December that had caused the demise of his favorite tie still not entirely forgiven.
Sam leaned back and stretched his hands over his head. "I've been in the desert, in an Islamic nation for almost a month. Someone please tell me we have some beer around here."
"I got it," G volunteered, and pushed himself off the wall.
"I can get it," Sam said, standing and stretching some more. "I just spent about a hundred years on a C-130 transport, I need to move before I develop rigor and freeze in that position."
G walked with Sam to the small kitchen area anyway.
Sam slung an arm around G's shoulders as they walked. "Nate says it was like having a puppy with separation anxiety around here while I was gone."
G yanked open the fridge with more force than necessary. "Yeah, well, that's Nate. Are you telling me you're actually going to start believing anything he says?" He grabbed two beers and offered one to Sam.
Sam twisted off the cap and drained half of it in one go. He watched G out of the corner of his eye as he drank. He'd seen the anxiousness in G's expression even from nearly eight thousand miles away. Sam put his hand around the back of G's neck and steered him down the side hall and into a small storage room. He flipped on the light and shut the door behind them.
"Yeah, because this won't start any rumors," G muttered, but he didn't make any move to either open the door or leave.
"Fuck 'em," Sam said simply. "I think Dom suspects something anyway. But who cares? You okay?"
G looked at him in confusion. "Me? You just spent twenty-three days in Baghdad fishing IEDs out of children's toys and trying to bust up a Marine-run prostitution ring and you want to know if I'm okay?"
Sam just raised an eyebrow.
"I'm fine, Sam," G said when he realized that Sam wasn't going to let this go without a straight answer.
"Miss me?" Sam asked cheekily.
"That what Nate thinks?" G bit out.
Sam leaned back on the wall and took another sip of his beer. "I think it's amazing Nate hasn't gone gray from having to do post-incident interviews with you." He waited another second. "You haven't answered my question." He stepped into G's personal space. "Did you miss me?" he asked again.
"What do you think?" G asked back, still not answering.
Sam set his beer bottle on a stack of camping gear and rested his hands on G's shoulders. "I think you have a massive problem with admitting that someone might be important to you. I missed you," Sam told him, his eyes locked on G's, his voice low.
When Sam felt G's shoulders tighten, when he began to think G was about to pull away from him, he squeezed gently, "Alright, alright, I'll leave it alone."
G just looked away, but stayed where he was, not pulling away from Sam. "Let's just say I'm not fond of my partner being in a war zone without me there to back him up."
"Ah, so you were worried about me," Sam said with a smile, tilting G's head up as he spoke.
"Maybe a little," G mumbled.
"Just a little, huh?" Sam whispered as he closed the distance between them and let his lips ghost against G's.
G didn't even bother trying to answer; he just took a deep breath and moved up until his chest brushed Sam's. He brought his hands up around Sam's back and let Sam kiss him until he had to break away for air. "Okay, I missed you," G finally admitted while they were still so close that Sam could feel G's breath against his lips as he spoke.
Sam kissed him again, reward for the admission.
When they broke apart again, Sam slid his hands down to G's hips, holding him in place, one thumb sliding under the lose end of G's shirt and rubbing over the smooth skin of his waist. "You ever say that to anyone before?"
G put his hands up between them, prepared to push Sam back. "Can we not do this now?"
Sam tightened his hold, "Okay, okay. Sorry."
"No, I haven't. Made it a habit not to stick around anywhere long enough to get to know anyone well enough to miss them when they were gone. Happy?" G was still chest-to-chest with Sam, so despite his aggravated tone, Sam knew he wasn't half as pissed as he was trying to sound.
Sam tilted his head back just enough to be sure that G could see his smile. "Delirious." He trusted G to know that he meant that it made it him happy that Sam was someone G had broken his own rules for. That Sam liked knowing that not only did G miss him, but that he'd gotten close enough to someone who, as a rule, didn't get close to anyone. Not that he was mocking G for the fact that he'd been cornered into admitting something he'd rather not have talked about.
G let his hands slide slowly over Sam's hips until they fell to his side and he took a deep breath and a half-step back, visibly collecting himself. "You got that right. You sure they pressurized the cabin of that C-130? Would explain a lot."
Sam smiled, pulled G in by the belt-loops and gave him another quick kiss. "Would explain why I've been hanging with you for the past three years." He stopped himself before he could make a joke about no one else putting up with G for that long. Every once in a while he'd forget that with G those jokes weren't all that funny. Today he really didn't want to ruin the mood. He could feel the extra energy in G, built up from weeks of pretending he wasn't insanely worried about his partner being in a war-zone. He knew it would be a few hours before they could legitimately make their excuses and head out for the night to put that energy to good use, but the last thing he wanted to do was to aggravate his partner.
"Think they're placing bets about how disheveled we'll be when we come back out, yet?" G asked.
"I suspect they're well past that point," Sam answered with a shrug. "But it's been a long, dry month in the desert and I really don't give a damn."
G smiled and stepped back up, close enough to kiss Sam one more time. "Me either. However, since I would like to avoid being disemboweled by Kensi before we can take this back to your place, I need to go finish some paperwork."
Sam sighed and leaned back against a stack of rolled and bagged tents. "Go… do paperwork. But we are getting the hell out of here as soon as Hetty's not looking."
G opened the door, a crack, hoping to catch whomever might be lurking and trying to eavesdrop, because he was pretty sure someone had noticed how long it had taken them to get a beer by now. He was almost disappointed when there was no one there to 'accidentally' hit with the door. "I am down with that," he said loudly, as he emerged from the closet.